Kjartansson draws on the entire arc of art in his performative practice. The history of film, music, theatre, visual culture and literature finds its way into his video installations, durational performances, drawing and painting. Pretending and staging become key tools in the artist's attempt to convey sincere emotion and offering a genuine experience to the audience. Kjartansson's playful work is full of unique moments where a conflict of the dramatic and the banal culminates in a memorable way. Kjartansson studied at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, he was born in 1976 in Reykjavík, where he still lives today.
Kjartansson's work has been exhibited widely. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at the New Museum, New York, the Migros Museum fur Gegenwartskunst in Zurich, the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, Frankfurter Kunstverein, and the BAWAG Contemporary in Vienna. Song, his first American solo museum show, was organized by the Carnegie Museum of Art in 2011, and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Kjartansson was the recipient of Performa’s 2011 Malcolm McLaren Award for his performance of Bliss, a twelve-hour live loop of the final aria of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and in 2009 he was the youngest artist to represent Iceland at the Venice Biennale’s International Art Exhibition.